Mitsubishi Drops DLP Displays: Goodbye RPTVs Forever
So long, RPTV—the only big screen I’ve ever known. Meet my family and our 15 years of Mitsubishi in the slideshow below.
Mitsubishi Electrical Visual Solutions America, Inc. (MEVSA), the group in charge of the RPTV and other video product lines for both residential and commercial markets, has sent a letter to authorized service centers (reprinted below) indicating they are “discontinuing the manufacture of 73”, 82” and 92” DLP projection televisions.”
The memo, issued by MEVSA president and CEO Junichi Nose, indicates that the move is part of an “important change in business direction, which will necessitate a corresponding restructuring of the MEVSA organization.”
Nose says MEVSA will continue to be headquartered at its current Irvine, Calif., location and adds, “We expect that these changes will have a minimal effect on you and your business.”
Reached early this morning, Max Wasinger, long-time exec with Mitsubishi’s video products and currently executive vice president of sales and marketing for MEVSA, tells CE Pro, “We are in the midst of an orderly exit from the DLP TV business. MEVSA will now focus on B-to-B (projectors, display wall, printers, digital signage, monitors, etc.) and the home theater projector business.”
TV ANALYST SAYS ...
The microdisplay category had a great run and was really the first “thin” big-screen TV. Unit sales for the microdisplay RPTV category hit point of 2.2M units in 2006. The category remained significant thought 2007, and in 2008 shipments fell dramatically to a little over 500,000 from 1.3M in 2007. It was in 2008 that we really saw big-screen LCD TV take off, with sales of 52” models over 1.5M.
Recently, the category has remained relevant only in the size 70” and above, with 70” struggling as well this year. Volume for 2011 fell to 210,446 units and this year we are projecting sales flat or below. The rental channel was the category’s main supporter in recent years, but as large flat-screen manufacturing prices declined, the rental channel quickly moved to LCD TVs.—Tamaryn Pratt, principal, Quixel Research.
Wasinger will take on the position of executive vice president of sales for all Mitsubishi Professional Products and solutions. Frank De Martin, vice president of sales for MEVSA, is staying with the organization, Wasinger says.
A Brief History of Mitsubishi and RPTV
Mitsubishi has a storied history in the big-screen RPTV market, launching a 50-inch HD-ready CRT for the home market in the mid-1990s (I had one of the first – see image gallery). CRTs gave way to DLP and other “thinner profile” RPTVs in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and Mitsubishi continued to lead the way.
As with the other key TV manufacturers, Mitsubishi made the shift to flat-panel displays in the early 2000’s, shipping a wide range of LCDs like the other guys. But while other TV makers were phasing out their microdisplays (DLP and LCOS), Mitsubishi continued to innovate in the category.
For example, in 2007, the company unveiled eight LCD flat panels and nine DLP RPTVs.
By 2009, the only other serious RPTV maker, Samsung, exited the category, giving Mitsubishi a virtual monopoly.
The manufacturer took advantage of that position and decided to focus on RPTVs. In early 2011, Mitsubishi exited the overcrowded LCD market and shortly thereafter announced it would cease production of all TVs smaller than 65 inches.
Frank De Martin (left) and Max Wasinger flank their biggest fan, CE Pro editor Julie Jacobson, 2011
And just after that announcement, the company unveiled a new line of really-big-screen DLPs that were substantially less expensive than any flat panels on the market. For example, the 92-inch WD-92840 retailed for $5,999 when it was introduced. Today, you can pick one up for less than $2,500.
In late 2011, at an expo presented by the buying group Nationwide/Specialty Electronics Nationwide (SEN), Mitsubishi explained its decision to move forward with RPTVs, noting that it is simply the best bang for the buck, and one of the few TV categories that could be profitable for dealers.
Back then, DeMartin discussed a competitor whose 70-inch flat screen – without 3D capabilities – retailed for $3,000
“You can get a 73-inch DLP for $1,599. And by the way, we [the dealer] can give you furniture, 3D glasses, a Blu-ray player and home theater in the box, and you’ll still pay less than $3,000.”
Mitsubishi continued to improve on its televisions with laser technology, which it was the first to introduce in 2008. The top-of-the-line “LaserVue” TVs feature much brighter pictures than traditional DLPs.
The latest model in what is largely regarded as a stunning TV line, is the L75-A96 75-inch LaserVue. It has an MSRP of $6,000 and a street price of about $4,000.